Be careful what you wish for because you will get it. I’ve heard that saying many times, but in this case it rings very true.
Like almost everyone I know, I’m a striver. I like to work hard and rest hard. Either way, working or resting, I like to get it right. In yoga, like so many of us in the west, I want to work my muscles as well as achieve peace. If my ass isn’t firm, enlightenment doesn’t seem quite as appealing.
Each morning a different teacher leads us in a two-hour practice starting at 6 AM. In most posture classes, you warm up to a challenging “pinnacle” posture. Today we warm up, get onto our feet, and our instructor Liz announces that we are moving into a balance pose. I inhale deeply, ready for the challenge.
“Lord Krishna’s Pose,” Liz says. My mind rebels. This posture (see Lord Krishna below) is very gentle. I don’t remember any of the internal benefits and it is definitely not working anything on a muscular level. I feel silly standing there holding a pretend flute.
Over the course of many asana classes throughout the last few days, I resent being asked to do simple exercises or to relax very long. Resentment seems to me the opposite of being completely present and open to whatever may arise – the primary goal of this journey.
I look up Lord Krishna later. In many ancient traditions, he symbolizes personal devotion, a love for the divine that transcends formal religion.
I look up the pose itself and find that it is supposed to balance the brain hemispheres, regulate the nervous system and calm anxiety.
If I hadn’t been so anxious about the benefits of the posture, I could have reaped them! And, as my friend Bexie tells me, you don’t always have to be achieving something. “Sometimes,” she says, “it’s nice to have just a moment of grace.”